By Brian Ives
Trent Reznor has long been a fan of David Bowie, and he recently took to the pages of the Hollywood Reporter to remind of us of his admiration. The Nine Inch Nails leader was writing for a year-end series called “The Rule Breakers,” which also includes features on Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron, the cast of characters from Duck Dynasty, and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan.
Reznor cut right to the chase with his essay: “To me, David Bowie is in the very top tier of artists — with capital letters. He’s proved himself so many times that I sit back and trust him.” He noted that, like the rest of the world, he was surprised when Bowie announced the release of his new album in January of this year. And while he initially felt that the production on The Next Day was a bit too “conservative,” he later came around: “I’m still unraveling the riddle that he presented. I’m still getting new meanings out of the lyrics. What I thought was conservative production now feels forward-thinking. Like any great album, it’s revealed itself to be something that wasn’t what I initially thought.”
Taking a bit of a dig another band who made a big return in 2013, Reznor said: “It wasn’t like the Arcade Fire album [Reflektor] and its yearlong rollout, where it was like, ‘OK, I get it. You’ve got an album out, you’ve played every TV show in the world.'” (Ironically, Bowie sings backing vocals on that album’s title track.)
He closes with this hyperbole: “Bowie is the most important figure to have inspired me… He has found an audience yet challenges that audience and continues moving forward in a fearless way.”
The admiration goes both ways. In 2011, when Rolling Stone published their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time, Nine Inch Nails was included at No. 94. Bowie wrote the essay on their inclusion. Speaking about NIN’s masterpiece, 1994’s The Downward Spiral, Bowie wrote, “Second to the Velvet Underground, there has never been better soul-lashing in rock…. It still sounds incredible today.” Strong words from a man who counts the Velvets as one of his main influences, who covered the Velvets, and collaborated with Lou Reed in his post-VU years.